Warwick had already clinched a spot in the Lancaster-Lebanon League boys soccer playoffs by the time the team took the field Wednesday night in Lititz, but the Warriors — riding a two-game losing streak for the first time this season — entered the clash with Cedar Crest on a mission to muster some momentum before the league tournament.
Goals from Kole Blauch and Jake Smith, and a trio of saves by Boston Libhart helped the Warriors accomplish the mission with a 2-0 victory, punctuating the Section One schedule, and the regular season, on a positive note.
GOAL, Warwick. Kole Blauch collects the ball in the Cedar Crest box, gets some separation from a defender and finishes to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead over Cedar Crest at 4:09. pic.twitter.com/241rsH16b1— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) October 9, 2019
"We hit a little bit of a rough patch in our last two games," said Matt Wagner, Warwick's coach, "so this meant more to us than a win for districts or for standings or anything like that. For us, it was more of a booster for us to get back into the way we need to play."
Blauch opened the scoring for the Warriors (7-3-0 Section One, 10-3-1 overall) in the fifth minute. Broden Price lifted a ball into the box that caromed off a Cedar Crest defender and toward Blauch, who collected it, took a step and flicked it into the goal.
Later in the half, Cedar Crest goalkeeper Mark Billman (13 saves) denied Blauch from close range, but Warwick's Jake Smith jumped on the rebound, punching it in off the underside of the crossbar to double the lead in the 36th minute.
"We probably should have had more (goals)," Wagner said. "We had a lot of opportunities tonight, but we're working on that in practice. We need to finish. That's the name of the game. That's why strikers are so important."
GOAL, Warwick. Jake Smith goes bardown to put away a rebound after a nice save by Cedar Crest keeper Mark Billman. Warriors lead 2-0 at 35:17. pic.twitter.com/Ik583SM5CG— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) October 10, 2019
In between Warwick goals, the Falcons (0-10-0, 2-14-0) applied pressure with runs from Nick Garman and Jonas Funk, but the Warriors' defense answered. At the other end, Billman kept the Falcons within striking distance with eight first-half saves.
"I thought that we made some great strides," said Travis Bensing, Cedar Crest's coach, "especially as a team defensively. We started out the year with a couple big losses, but we started to find our form. I'm just proud to have a good group of guys to work with."
A scrum in the 67th minute marred the second half, as Warwick's Nick Valudes and Cedar Crest's Luke Bowman exchanged shoves after a foul in the Cedar Crest end as players from both teams rushed in, attempting to separate them. Both players were shown red cards. Bowman received medical attention after suffering an injury in the altercation.
Prior to the game, Conestoga Valley defeated Hempfield, 2-0, a decision that knocked the Black Knights out of league-playoff contention and secured a berth for the Warriors, who are scheduled to face Section Three champion Cocalico in Saturday's quarterfinal scheduled for noon Saturday at Manheim Central after the 10 a.m. quarterfinal between Section Two champion McCaskey and Section Four runner-up Lancaster Catholic.
"It's always a good test," Wagner said. "Any time we get games against good competition, it helps us prepare for districts."
In Section Two
Lampeter-Strasburg 3, Ephrata 0: Alex Baker scored a pair of goals for the Pioneers (7-3-0, 12-4-1), who clinched second place in the section and a berth in the league playoffs. L-S is set to face Section Four champion Peqeua Valley in a quarterfinal scheduled for noon Saturday at Lancaster Catholic after the 10 a.m. quarterfinal between Section One champion Manheim Township and Section Three runner-up Lancaster Mennonite.